Good fences make good neighbors, according to the old adage. Fences are good for keeping unwanted things out and for keeping desired things in. Occasionally, however, you may need to get in or out of the fence. Rather than climbing over or crawling under the fence, most people rely on a gate. In order to function properly a gate must have a gate post.
Gate posts provide structure and support to gates. Properly installed, gate posts allow the gate to open freely without getting stuck in an opening that is too tight or sagging in an opening that is too far apart. The gate post is designed to hold the gate parallel to the ground for easy access, or on the opposite side to provide a base for the gate latch to keep the gate shut.
Gate posts fall into two broad and frequently overlapping categories: decorative and functional. Decorative gate posts may be heavily ornamented or starkly simple, but they are always designed to complement the style of the home or business where they are installed. Functional gate posts may also sport complementary design, but they are designed to fulfill their purpose of providing support to the gate. They may be fitted into a fence, doorway or any other entryway.
Whether decorative or ornamental, all gate posts possess similar features. The gate post may be made from wood, metal, heavy-duty plastic or a variety of other materials. The only requirement is that it be sturdy enough to support the gate. Gate posts always come in pairs: one post supports the gate and the other supports the gate latch. Some gates are too wide to be supported by a single gate post. In these cases each gate post supports a separate gate. The two gates meet in the center of the entryway and latch together.
There is no standard size for a gate post. The only requirement is that it must be substantial enough to support the gate. A general rule for wooden fences is to use a 4" x 4" gate post for gates under 4' high; use 5" x 5" posts for gates under 6' high; and use 6" x 6" posts for gates taller than 6'. Most gates require the gate post to be cemented into the ground at least 2'. Heavier and wider gates will require a heavier gate post sunk deeper into the ground.
A properly installed gate post allows the gate to be both easy to use and easy to maintain. A gate post will be wide enough to allow access by typical traffic whether it be people on foot, motor vehicles or the special needs of equipment such as a wheelbarrow or a wheelchair. Gate posts may contribute to the aesthetic value of your home and can provide safety and security for your property.